Prof. Herbert Shea

Full Professor

PhD, Physics, Harvard University, 1997
MA, Physics, Harvard University, 1993
BSc, Physics, McGill University, 1991

Professional experience
- Assistant Professor, Tenure Track, EPFL, 2004 - present
- Technical Manager, MEMS Reliability Group, Bell Labs, Lucent Technologies, 2001-2004
- Member of Technical Staff, Bell Labs, Lucent Technologies, 1999-2001
- Postdoctoral Fellow, IBM TJ Watson Research Center Yorktown Heights, NY, USA, 1997-1999


Research Area

The mission of the Microsystems for Space Technologies Laboratory’s (EPFL-LMTS) is to develop reliable MEMS for use in Spacecraft as well as on Earth.
Our activities cut across several MEMS technologies, both silicon and polymer based. Since the lab was founded in 2004, a major focus has been on miniaturized electroactive polymer (EAP) actuators fabricated using low-energy metal ion implantation in silicone elastomers. This research has led to miniaturized EAP device with the largest reported percentage displacement, to flexible metal electrodes conducting reliably at strains greater than 175%, and to arrays of EAP devices on a chip, including tunable lenses, and devices applying cyclic stress on single cells.
We have developed two types of Earth Sensors for use on satellites, one based on imaging atmospheric oxygen airglow, the other based on directly measuring the gravity gradient vector using a MEMS pendulum, thus allowing the spacecraft to determine its orientation with respect to the Earth without optical access.
We are investigating chip scale plasma light sources to be used in miniature atomic clocks, and have demonstrated the first mm-scale hermetically sealed plasma fabricated at the wafer-scale.
We demonstrated a highly efficient compact and integrated MEMS thruster (electric propulsion) which can be tuned to emit either ions or charged droplets. We are actively pursuing the development of this thruster in collaboration with an international consortium.
Our laboratory was instrumental in starting the SwissCube project, a 1 kg satellite designed and built primarily at the EPFL, with launch planned in August 2009. The LMTS was responsible for the payload which will demonstrate one of our novel Earth sensor concepts.


Herbert SHEA
MC B4 177 (Bâtiment MC)
CH-2002 Neuchâtel 2